NeoCon3The 47th edition of NeoCon, June 15-17, was one for the record books with high numbers of engaged professionals flocking to the Merchandise Mart for a jam-packed, three-day show. Drawing more than 50,000 influential attendees from across the country and globe, the floors
were bustling and vibrant until the show close on Wednesday. They all came to take advantage of the powerful keynotes, top-notch exhibitors, fresh educational programming and invaluable networking opportunities. Adding to the excitement this year was the unveiling of a brand new river-facing park in front of the Merchandise Mart, as well as the launch of an enhanced and super-intuitive NeoCon app. Improved way-finding and thoughtfully designed layouts on the 7th and 8th floors elevated the NeoCon experience.

Susan McCullough, Senior Vice President at The Merchandise Mart, comments, “NeoCon has long been the ultimate conference and exposition for those in commercial interiors. This year, the show was even better then ever thanks to many new initiatives and events. Enthusiastic show-goers and exhibitors kept NeoCon buzzing until the final hour of the very last day. It’s become clear that the show has grown in size and scope and is on a great track for years to come.”

Keynote sessions and the majority of the CEUs and seminars were sold out. Patricia Urquiola’s Keynote (presented by IIDA and Haworth) was a smash hit, kicking off the show on a high note. A major rainstorm cancelled second day Keynote presenter Jason Silva’s flight (and therefore presentation sponsored by ASID and OFS Brands), but it did not dampen spirits. As skies cleared, attendees descended upon the gorgeous new park on the Merchandise Mart’s South Drive for NeoCon and Interior Design magazine’s HiP at NeoCon party featuring live Blues music and some of Chicago’s favorite food and drink. On Wednesday, rising stars and keynotes Martin Lesjak and Anastasija Sugic (presented by AIA Chicago and Mohawk Group) set the tone for a successful last day, with many attendees staying until the show wrapped up that afternoon.set

Dates for NeoCon 2016 are set for June 13-15. For more information, visit


A new Tiling Town set to debut at Cersaie 205

The stage is set for the fourth edition of Tiling Town, to be held at the heart of the Exhibition Centre at Cersaie 2015, scheduled in Bologna, Italy from September 28-October 2. The 2015 edition will see greater involvement on the part of Assoposa, which will organize the Master Tiler demonstrations. Collaboration with the Vocational School for young tile layers in the province of Bolzano will also continue.

Tiling Town will be back in a new and more prestigious location alongside the Services Centre at the Exhibition Centre’s main entrance (Area 49).

Now in its fourth edition, the event will bring together the entire world of tile laying at Cersaie. In the space of just a few years, it has seen a considerable improvement in quality and attracted constantly growing numbers of participants and visitors.

Tiling Town 2015 will be divided into 3 separate areas.

A large space will be occupied by Assoposa (Italian ceramic tile layers’ association), whose Master Tilers will give demonstrations of how to install large-format and thin tiles for interiors and exteriors. Numerous demonstrations will be given each day and will be open to all visitors to Cersaie.

Following last year’s success, the 2015 event will once again see the participation of the vocational school of Silandro (Bolzano), which will participate in Tiling Town in cooperation with the association lvh.apa Confartigianato Imprese of Bolzano. Eleven apprentices accompanied by their tutors will carry out highly complex work requiring a high level of manual skill, precision and meticulous workmanship.

The school in Silandro is the only Italian educational institute taking part in Worldskills 2015, the world championships of professional skills to be held in August in São Paulo (Brazil) which will also include a tiling competition.

In another area, the Assoposa Master Tilers will carry out a complicated installation to demonstrate the enormous adaptability of ceramic tiles to any requirement in the field of building and architecture.

Cersaie 2015 will also host a meeting of European manufacturers, retailers and tilers. For the first time, these players will come together to discuss the short and long term market prospects and to explore many themes of shared interest such as technical training of professionals and the state of international standards governing products and installation methods. The meeting will see the participation of representatives of CET (European ceramic tile producers’ association), EUF (European ceramic tile fixers’ association) and distributor and retailer associations from several different countries. For more information, visit

Bostik tours with Tour de France 2015

Bostik, Inc. (, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of adhesives and sealants, is an official supplier of Tour de France 2015.  This sponsorship provides a platform for promotional activities showcasing Bostik brands and activities to a global audience.

This 102nd Tour de France started July 4th in Utrecht, Netherlands and finishes on the world-famous Champs-Élysées in Paris, France July 26th. The 21-stage route covers a distance of over 3,000km, taking riders through three countries and extremely challenging terrain. There will be 6,000-plus hours of worldwide TV coverage with reports broadcast in 190 countries reaching an estimated 3.5 viewers. 12 million spectators are expected to view the race as it crosses France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

As a sponsor, Bostik is participating in the Tour de France ‘Publicity Caravan’ which accompanies the race. Various promotional vehicles offer spectators gifts and giveaways while they await the riders. These vehicles strongly promote Bostik incorporating the firm’s already well-recognized gecko in a prominent visual role.  To add to the Tour de France 2015 sponsorship, Bostik will be launching a number of international promotional programs through September. These will include social media campaigns, customer events and in-market promotions across multiple countries, which will include cycling-related competitions, giveaways and special offers.

Michael Jenkins, business director for Bostik’s Consumer & Construction Business Unit – Americas, stated, “Bostik high-performance adhesives are being successfully used worldwide for a diverse variety of applications dependent upon products people use each day. We believe it’s important that consumers in the Americas know of the global acceptance our products enjoy.  Globalizing the distinct image of our brand is a good ‘step one’ in getting everyday people to become even more familiar with the Bostik name and range of solutions our company provides. Clearly, our international sponsorship of Tour de France 2015 is a prime example of this kind of global promotion. ”

Scott Banda, director of Marketing for Bostik’s Consumer & Construction Business Unit – Americas, added, “This is just one more program, which again shows the entire world how Bostik is aggressively on the move, strengthening recognition of its brand.  We want customers in the Americas to be confident that when they decide upon Bostik products, they will be receiving high-performance materials that have been thoroughly researched, selected and accepted worldwide. By associating our unique brand identity images with prestigious global sporting events such as Tour de France 2015, we will continue to accomplish these well thought-out image-building strategies.”

About Bostik, Inc.

Bostik is a leading global adhesive specialist in industrial manufacturing, construction and consumer markets. For more than a century, they have been developing innovative adhesive solutions that are smarter and more adaptive to the forces that shape people’s daily lives. From cradle to grave, from home to office, Bostik’s smart adhesives can be found everywhere. With annual sales of $1.63 billion, the company employs 4,800 people and has a presence in more than 50 countries. Bostik is a company of Arkema. Visit for more information.

Dal-Tile expands capacity with Mexican plant acquisition; construction of Tennessee plant

DALLAS, July 15, 2015 – Dal-Tile, the largest manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile and natural stone products in North America, announced today it has acquired the North American operations of Cerámica San Lorenzo.

The purchase includes a modern manufacturing facility in Mexicali, Mexico, and a product showroom and warehouse in Southern California. The plant is Dal-Tile’s 11th manufacturing facility in North America; it produces tile collections under the San Lorenzo brand for the builder, residential remodeling and commercial segments.

John Turner, Jr., Dal-Tile president

John Turner, Jr., Dal-Tile president

“This addition further strengthens our industry-leading manufacturing capabilities, which are focused on delivering stylish, high performance and innovative tile products to our customers,” said Dal-Tile president John Turner, Jr. “This acquisition will support our rapid growth in Mexico, and strengthens our competitive position, especially in the western and southwestern U.S.”

Turner said Dal-Tile will invest in the Mexicali plant to enhance its processes and capabilities. Following its parent company Mohawk Industries’ 2013 acquisition of The Marazzi Group, Dal-Tile integrated Marazzi’s U.S. operations, including two manufacturing plants in Sunnyvale, Texas, and Florence, Ala. The plants have subsequently increased tile production capacity and capability, and also implemented numerous process improvements.

Dal-Tile is also currently building a state-of-the-art ceramic tile manufacturing facility and distribution center in Dickson, Tenn. The Dickson plant is scheduled to open later this year and will begin full-scale tile production in early 2016.

About Dal-Tile Corporation

Dal-Tile is the largest manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile and natural stone products used in residential and commercial design and construction across North America. The company was founded in 1947 and is headquartered in Dallas. Dal-Tile is a division of Mohawk Industries (NYSE: MHK), the world’s largest flooring manufacturer.

Dal-Tile products, which include the leading ceramic tile brands in North America — Daltile, American Olean, Marazzi, Ragno — are used throughout new residential construction, residential remodeling construction and commercial construction. The company is committed to incorporating environmentally friendly materials, processes and products throughout its organization.

Dal-Tile has more than 8,400 employees in North America, and sells its products through a network of more than 250 company-owned sales service centers, stone slabyards, gallery design centers, independent distributors and leading home center retailers nationwide. For more information on Dal-Tile and its brands, visit

Editor’s Letter – July 2015

Lesley psf head shot“Be prepared before you begin. You save yourself from delay if you are fully prepared. Preparation sets you for excellence.”
Israelmore Ayivor, Shaping the dream

Here is a question about a situation I am sure just about every contractor encounters – delays. In the sense that you tell your customer that you will be at their site at X time at X day, but something happens to prevent this. How do you handle it?

I ask, because I recently had such a situation develop. My very old rotting and rickety evaporative cooler (a popular form of air conditioning in hot, low-humidity climates) needed replacing and the plumbing contractor the store recommended was due to come to the house on Wednesday, June 10 at 2 pm. That time came and went. As a person with a very flexible relationship with time, I understood he might have been detained. But when the clock started ticking around to the quarter hour, I called. Yes, he did have a setback; his son who was helping him had been injured, but he could get here about 4 p.m. Then closer to the appointed hour, he called and said he’d come about 6. I had an appointment, but my sweetie stayed home to be available for the plumber. When I got home later, I learned he had called and said he couldn’t make it at all but he would come the next day at 9 am. I was disappointed and my sweetie was decidedly unhappy.

Now, I had never worked with this plumber before and we were over a barrel – temperatures were heating up and cooling was desperately needed. Plus he was picking up the new unit and disposing of our old one. So we waited. At 9:30 the next morning, he and a helper rolled in. Time was tight because BOTH my sweetie and I had appointments at about noon, which was cutting the installation close. All’s well that ends well; cooler was installed in the nick of time and we’ve been enjoying blessedly cool indoor temperatures ever since. My neighbor asked who my installer was, hired him, and he arrived on time to her home, to her delight.

So how do YOU handle delays? Do you call your client if you know you’ll be late? Is there an alternate member of your team who can go to a customer’s home to get the job started? Do you only give approximate times or suggest a time range – say, between 2 – 4 p.m.?

I’m curious about successful ways to manage delays and customer expectations and not only provide an expert installation for your clients, but keep them happy from the get-go with realistic time frames and contingency plans.

Please email me with your experiences at, and I’ll use your comments for a future Business Tip story that focuses on the topic of delays and successful management thereof. Many thanks!

God bless,


TheSize hosts 2nd international Neolith Design Competition

TheSize (, manufNeolith design comp (2)acturers of Neolith sintered compact surfaces, announces its second international competition for architects, interior designers, remodelers and students.

The competition is broken into European, American (North and South America) and Worldwide editions with an entry category for professionals and one for students in each edition. All entries will be judged by a panel of notable professionals in architecture, interior design and construction.

My Neolith Project for professionals require a completed residential or commercial remodeling project using Neolith surfacing in a creative way. The winner of the My Neolith Project America competition will win an all-inclusive trip for two to Living Interiors 2016 in Cologne, Germany.  Remodeling project images should be submitted to with “My Neolith Project America” in the subject line.

Neolith Design Competition 2014 winners.

Neolith Design Competition 2014 winners.

The Neolith New Talents students willcompete under the theme “the Neolith Restaurant of the Future,” designing an innovative restaurant and kitchen space with Neolith as the primary surface. The student winner will receive an all-inclusive trip for two to the 2016 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, NV. Conceptual projects should be submitted to with “Neolith New Talents America” in the subject line.

Deadline is December 1, 2015. Winners will be announced December 15, 2015.

Editor’s Letter – June 2015

Lesley psf head shot“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”
– Isak Dinesen

Recently I called NTCA headquarters in Jackson, Miss., (I work offsite from my home office in Albuquerque, N.M.) with a question, and wound up catching up with a member of the NTCA staff. We talked about recent vacations, and her observation about the tremendous amount of work and energy involved in participating and attending Coverings, among other things. I value these occasional phone chats, since it’s my best opportunity to stay connected with folks on the NTCA team, both in terms of work and personal aspects of our lives.

Our conversation drifted to news, and specifically bad news that is so easy to consume whether on television, in newspapers, magazines or social media. At the drop of a hat, we get besieged by political outrage, injustice, crime, threats of economic disasters, environmental woes, cruelty to animals or children, and more. You know – you’ve seen it all.

I shared that I often feel a need to call on my editing skills to censor what I let into my life and consciousness. There’s a similarity to how I work – I get a barrage of information streaming into my email inbox every day. To make sense of it and select the best content for TileLetter readers, I edit – delete, download and revise, shorten, expand. I can’t possibly include everything I see or TileLetter would be a 500-page tome each month, with lots of information that – while not completely irrelevant to the industry – is not targeted precisely for our readership. The same principle applies with all I see and experience at industry events like Surfaces, Coverings and Total Solutions Plus. Information and events need to be experienced, digested and summarized, often with links to where details can be obtained.

When I read the news (usually online) or see discussions on social media, I call my editing skills into play. Is this something of value for me, and those in my life? Do I REALLY have to engage in this political discussion (One of the wisest sayings I’ve ever heard is, “You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.”)? Is this a cause that touches my heart? Is that story even TRUE? Will this benefit, support, inspire or delight anyone else if it is shared? Is it moving me closer to a goal? So, in a very real way, I need to delete, download and revise, shorten, expand, act on or ignore pretty much everything that comes across my five senses to determine if it’s in alignment to my vision for my life or if it brings some benefit to me or those I hold dear.

What does this have to do with our industry, you may ask? Everything! How many pieces of information do you encounter every day? How many opportunities do you have to be distracted by naysayers or complainers or drama queens (or kings) who thrive on controversy? Maybe it’s a staff member, employee, sales rep, or the news itself. The best way to counter information overload is to know your mission, be skilled in your role and trade, and sift through the wave of communication with wisdom and discernment to pare it down to usable kernels of knowledge. NTCA can help you do this, with opportunities for education and elevating your company to a higher level, all within a context of open discussion – such as what takes place within the Technical Committee meetings. There is also expert advice, helpful documents such as training manuals and the NTCA Reference Manual, and networking opportunities to talk through experiences with other skilled tile and stone contractors and industry professionals.

So be prepared for the onslaught, because in addition to death and taxes, the only other sure thing is bad news. Connect with NTCA, put on your editor’s hat and cut through the chaos like a hot knife through butter.

God bless!

MAPEI Corporation Hosts NTCA Five Star Contractors in Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada — The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Contractors Program continues to grow and develop.  As part of its strategy to offer increased business and technical education — as well as peer review and networking opportunities — the NTCA held a summer Five Star Contractor Program June 2nd-7th in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.  The conference was generously sponsored by the MAPEI Corporation, who hosted the technical educational program at its plant headquarters located in Vancouver.

NTCA contractors and their spouses combined educational and networking programming with sightseeing excursions.  In addition to discussions centering on the latest standards, Five Star Contractors were treated to technical presentations by MAPEI personnel addressing grout technology, large format and thin tile installations, and substrate preparation.  A lively question and answer session followed each presentation.

The second day of the programming focused on business development, the NTCA utilized the resources of Ethan Cowles, professional educator and facilitator with Fails Management Institute.  Five Star Contractors participated in working groups that interacted with Cowles, addressing project management, estimating, cash flow operations, and understanding in detail balance sheets, income statements, budgets, and financial statements.

The NTCA plans to offer a summer Five Star meeting every year, and is also in discussions to develop regional training opportunities for Five Star Contractor employees as well as operational analysis.

MIA/BSI Washington DC Study Tour Set for November

Displaying MIA-BSI-0108- Study Tour ----- Mall_Monument.JPG

Chestertown, NY, and Oberlin, OH, June 9, 2015 – The Building Stone Institute (BSI) and Marble Institute of America (MIA) will jointly host a 2015 study tour with Washington, DC as the backdrop for a 3-day event immersed in its rich heritage of natural stone. Registration is open for this event, with an early bird registration discount available until July 31st.

This is not the first time these two leading stone associations have come together to host a study tour. Both collaborated on a Vermont study tour in 2011, as well as individually leading tours over the past several years to places such as Minnesota, Texas, Colorado, Banff, Alberta (Canada), and Georgia. The study tours offer a unique combination of classroom and field-trip experiences about natural stone.

The Washington, DC event dates (November 15-18, 2015) immediately precede Greenbuild’s Expo which affords stone professionals an opportunity to extend their learning experience and see what other building products are competing with natural stone in the green building marketplace.

Tour highlights include many member-led, open forum workshops; tours of the MLK and FDR memorials and other monuments; a visit to the National Cathedral for a presentation on earthquake repairs and routine restoration efforts; and an interactive “Stone Experience” at Luck Stone Center in Sterling, VA.

Peter Miller, Vice President, Publisher, and General Manger of the Home Group of Active Interest Media (AIM) – whose work serves the information needs of old house owners, architects, contractors, building owners, developers and facilities managers who do residential and non-residential historic preservation and traditional building – will speak on trends in the building and design communities.

Participants will also have an opportunity to attend two MIA “Women in Stone” facilitated programs. The “Stone Experience” Workshops will feature hands-on learning stations including:

·         Thin Veneer Stone

·         Anchored Stone

·         Paving

·         Stone Architectural Carving

·         Stone Letter Carving

·         Care and Maintenance

·         Splitting and Trimming

·         Dry Stone Wall Building

·         Building Stone Geology

·         Stone Tools

Early event sponsors include Custom Building Products, EuroStone Machine USA, Luck Stone Center, Miles Supply, Park Industries, Rock of Ages, and Stone Source. The stone experience workshops are being hosted by Red Leaf Stone Anchors, Manassas Granite & Marble, Coldspring and Northern Stone Supply, Custom Building Products, Tompkins Bluestone, The Stone Store, Rundle Rock Building Stone, and Trow and Holden.

Registration information for this joint MIA-BSI event can be found at: (early bird registration ends July 31st).

About the Marble Institute of America

For over 70 years the Marble Institute of America (MIA) has been the world’s leading information resource and advocate for the natural dimension stone industry. MIA members include marble, granite, limestone, sandstone, and other natural stone producers and quarriers, fabricators, installers, distributors, and contractors in over 55 countries around the world.

About the Building Stone Institute
Since 1919, the Building Stone Institute (BSI) has worked on behalf of a diverse membership, representing all aspects of the natural stone industry. BSI provides resources, programs, and services that empower member companies to offer the highest level of quality products and services and to educate the architectural and design communities on the benefits and uses of natural stone. For more information visit


Becky Serbin joins NTCA as Education and Curriculum Coordinator

Beck Serbin, NTCA Education and Curriculum Coordinator

Beck Serbin, NTCA Education and Curriculum Coordinator

(JACKSON, Miss.) — The National Tile Contractors Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Becky Serbin to the newly created position of Education and Curriculum Coordinator.  In this position, Serbin will oversee the implementation of a learning management software program the association will offer for continuing education for tile and stone installation and specification.  As part of this program, she will work closely with staff and committee members to develop an Apprenticeship Program that will combine on line courses with field experience training. 

Serbin joins the NTCA having worked for the past 13 years for Georgia Pacific Corporation.  Her duties there included architectural and technical services, associate product management, and continuing education curriculum development and implementation.  At Georgia Pacific, she served as the TCNA Backerboard SubCommittee Chairperson and participated in NTCA Technical Committee meetings and document development.  She holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Kennesaw State University. 

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